Ten years feels like one year when it comes to 31-year-old hip hop icon Drake. We’ve sat at the edge of our seats awaiting new music, deciphered cryptic Instagram posts, and researched the many women he’s been pictured with at red carpet events over the years. The Toronto native ascended to the top of the game fairly early in his career, and has maintained his spot among today’s greats rather convincingly. He’s also dealt with his fair share of hate, rumors, lies, and critique throughout his career. Other rappers have questioned the origin of his lyrics, instances of cultural appropriation, women alluding to his preferred sexual activities, Degrassi jokes, and everything in between. Yet he fielded it all, replied to some slander, and still remains dominant. Even as an advocate for “the 6 God”, for me it can become tiresome to see him discussed so often in the media, whether it’s good or bad. As a result of the overexposure, a sort of “Drake Fatigue” was beginning to set in for fans - which is why the timing of the January 19th EP ‘Scary Hours’ was nearly perfect.
I get it. We got ‘Views’ and ‘More Life’ in just under a year. Multiple singles dropped in groups at a time, leaked tracks, and album release dates pushed back. This guy can get pretty frustrating if you follow his moves and believe the hype. However, if you strip it down, he’s still the same old Drake from the pre-‘So Far Gone’ days -- just richer and more knowledgeable of the game. That’s why his approach to these two tracks was so pleasing.
“God’s Plan” is your standard Drizzy turnup-track with a memorable hook and a few solid punchlines. He takes the time to acknowledge that there are people praying on his downfall, but God has greater things in store for him. He shouts out the bros and provides us with some feel-good Instagram-worthy captions over another splendid Boi-1da beat. It’s always great when these two link up, as proven on tracks like “Best I Ever Had,” “Over,” “Headlines” and many more. This will without a doubt be on every pregame playlist, and has already broken streaming records. One disappointment was the fact he had no features here (as the originally leaked track featured rising sensation Trippie Redd.) Many hope for this addition to show up on the album version, as Drake does like to put young artists on in his albums.
“Diplomatic Immunity” is the gift that keeps on giving. At first listen I was shook, but the more you listen and catch different meanings in lines, the more you come to appreciate Drake’s pen. His demeanor on this song immediately reminded me of JAY-Z on ‘4:44’ because he came off so seasoned, wise, and yet unbothered by the competition. ‘4:44’ was much deeper in terms of themes, but I feel Hov approached it very laid-back and calculated, just as the poster boy for Virginia Black did here. Boi-1da took the reins on production yet again and did not disappoint, but the beat was really only background music, as the focal point of this track is what Drake had to say. A standout line was “Opinions over statistics, of course” -- as people often use their opinions to downplay the numerical success he has amassed over his career.
Other lines like “At award shows, cuttin’ through the tension, of course,” “They try to compare us, but like a job straight outta high school there’s no you and I,” “Tired of women that may tag me in pictures airin’ my dirty laundry,” “Black excellence, but I guess when it comes to me it’s not the same though, all goodie / That just pushed me to do the things we all couldn’t,” are just a few that paint the picture of how Drake sees himself among other rappers, and acknowledging how people perceive him and his motivation.
The most controversial line was “I’ve seen buddin’ careers turn to sit around and talk about other careers, judgin’ their peers / Knowledge from niggas did not contribute to none of this here.” We all remember the Drake and Joe Budden beef from 2016. Drake’s ‘“pump it up” line in “No Shopping”, Joe dropping multiple diss tracks, and then Drake bringing out Eminem on the Summer Sixteen Tour. It was a hot beef that fell off, but the Slaughterhouse rapper made a career out of talking about other people’s careers with his Complex morning show “Everyday Struggle” starring DJ Akademiks -- that which he is no longer apart of. Budden and Akademiks spent most of their time critiquing musicians of today, and have generated much hate as a result. Drake feels he’s accomplished more than Budden in his career and cleverly plays on his name in this line.
Drake told us at the end of “Do Not Disturb” on ‘More Life’ he’d be back in 2018 to give us the summary, and boy, did that summary have a strong opener. He’s rumored to have an album coming this year, in addition to venturing out into the film industry. At this point we just have to expected the unexpected, but what a start to 2018 for OVO.